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issue 3 cover

Issue 3 of Falling Rock National Park is finished! Here is the finished cover:
issue-3-cover-lowSubscribers will be getting their copies as soon as they get back from the printer.
If you don’t subscribe, why not start now? Reading more comics is a great New Year’s resolution.


carver reads his poem

This week I ran a story about Carver the owl writing his first poem.  Writing poetry is as confounding to me as flying a fighter jet.  So I never wrote a poem for Carver.  The whole story is about the process of him writing a poem, and I didn’t think the poem itself mattered.

I thought wrong.

Due to popular demand, I present to you Carver’s poetry reading (in some parts of the country this would be called a “slam”).

In two parts:carvers-poem1 carvers-poem2


carver’s smile

When Bill Watterson first drew Calvin, his haircut covered his eyes.  An editor suggested combing that hair back.  Watterson saw the logic in this immediately.  The best way to see a character’s expression, his mood, his intent, is in his eyes.  How much can you know about someone whose eyes you never see?

When I designed Carver the owl, I tried giving him a mouth.  The inherent problem was that his beak is his mouth.  It looked about as weird as you think it would.  Like a person in an owl suit.

Over the years I’ve expanded Carver’s expressions mainly using his eyes.  Normally almond-shaped, they widen in disbelief and narrow in anger.  But I’ve discovered that, even though his beak looks much better closed than open,* there are still possibilities for expression.

Carver’s neutral pose includes a straight beak, a tall triangle:carver-ambivalent

His beak gets curvier the more agitated Carver gets:carver-agitated
When Carver is happy or cocky, his beak tilts slightly:carver-excited
Here’s a good progression.  Carver starts off very agitated, then gets more complacent.  His beak slowly loses its curve:carver-beak-progression
I also like this particular strip because you get to see the pupils in Pam’s eyes.

These are probably things you ought to think about before you settle on the character designs for your comic strip, but I prefer to figure this stuff out as I go.  Fortunately none of my characters in Falling Rock have required a complete makeover; I just change a few details over time and hope nobody’s paying attention.

*It’s too bad Carver’s beak looks so weird open.  That makes it harder to draw him eating something.  I also realized it’s hard to draw Carver puckering to kiss, but I guess that’s okay because real birds don’t kiss.  Or do they?

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season five

2010-08-16-falling-rock-national-parkFalling Rock returns for Season 5 today.  I’m so happy to be back.  If you could see me you’d know I’m dancing from one foot to the other in giddy glee.  It’s really hard typing this way.

This strip, along with the next two weeks’ worth of strips, was actually drawn way back in May.  It’s nice to have these finally see the light of your computer screen/iPad/3-D glasses.

To start the year off right, I picked an episode talking about the Falling Rock park in general.  Carver is, as usual, angry at natural phenomena way beyond his powers.  Park Ranger Dee is simply liking her job, up until the owl outburst.  I think Dee’s love for her work is tempered by her frequent proximity to Carver.  They’re opposites in many ways.  Dee came to the park voluntarily while Carver was born there and cannot leave.  Dee is tall, feminine, young.  Carver is a short, angry man.  He’s older than Dee in owl years, but I’m really not sure how owl years work – it’s more complicated than Celsius to Fahrenheit, I know that much.

Of all the characters, Ernesto the lizard is able to absorb the most of Carver’s vitriol without stomping off.  Dee finds Carver interesting as a case study.  If she were a psychologist she’d probably follow him around all the time, then write a bestselling psychological profile on him.  As she is simply a Park Ranger, Dee mentally catalogs Carver’s moods and then goes back to her dorm where she can determine how much of it is an owl thing and how much is Carver.


fan art!

I have a standing invitation to cartoonists and non-cartoonists alike: if you submit a drawing of any of the inhabitants of Falling Rock National Park, I will post it right here.  The last cartoonist to grace these pages was none other than Patrick McDonnell.  He drew a very flattering likeness of Carver.

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following drawing of Carver and Ernesto by New Mexican cartoonist Stephen McCranie.  It looks to me like Carver is contemplating an O.K. Corral-style shootout, while Ernesto is happily baffled.  Par for the course at Falling Rock.fallingrockfanart

Thanks Stephen!  And make sure to read his comic strip, Mal and Chad, which he is currently adapting into a graphic novel.  Movies, plush toys, and complete world domination are certain to follow.


sketchbook frogs

As Richard Thompson says, words fail me and drawing’s too hard.  I’ve been drawing the final Falling Rock comic strips for this school year, and what follows is a page from my sketchbook.  I needed to learn how to draw a frog for one strip.  Oh, and there’s Carver in the corner because I like drawing things I already know how to draw.sketchbook-frogs


carver and ernesto as humans

excerpt-2009-11-25-falling-rock-national-park Ever wonder what Carver and Ernesto would look like if they were human? I can’t say this is definite, but here are my initial thoughts on the matter:carver-ernesto-people-color

I noticed, after I chose this photo, that there is a little rainbow effect on the right. Ernesto now stands at the end of the rainbow.

autobiography Blog comic

Should Carver have a catchphrase?

carver-asteriskBart Simpson, Ren & Stimpy, Bugs Bunny: great cartoon characters have great catchphrases. Which is why, when I look at my work on Falling Rock, I see a huge missing piece in the story of Carver the owl. He’s got no catchphrase.

Carver has plenty to say on just about any topic. He’s had his share of one-liners, zingers, gotchas, and bogeys. One thing he doesn’t have is a line to which he can repeatedly return, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, that will automatically deliver the laffs.

Should Carver’s catchphrase be witty? Sarcastic? Adorable? Maddening? All it really needs to be is short enough to fit on t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, boxer briefs, gallon jars of mayonnaise, and of course frilly placemats.

During this summer hiatus of Falling Rock, I’ll be considering what Carver’s catchphrase should be. You, dear readers, can help! Just comment below and we’ll see if Carver can return in the fall with a hilarious catchphrase that will rocket the owl into the national spotlight. Or merely become more annoying with each passing utterance. Either way.

Blog friday robot

Friday Robots Still Going Strong

Friday Robots have bled into Sunday this week. A lone robot is still roaming Falling Rock, requesting food items from Carver.robot-and-carver

This can only result in tears.

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sunday funnies

falling rock explore-colorSince Falling Rock doesn’t run on Sunday, I am deprived of the fun of coloring a comic strip once a week. I wanted to see what it would look like in full color. Since it takes place in the desert, I used a piece of brown paper to wash the whole thing out and give it that dusty, windblown look.

I don’t know how well this would reprint in a newspaper – would the natural gray grains of the page cancel out the effect I’m going for? Or would they heighten it and make it look instantly antique? I guess I won’t find out until one of the syndicates decides to take a shot on a comic strip that isn’t Garfield. In the meantime, I may try to color one strip a week and post it here on Sundays, just for the heck of it. It’ll give me practice for The Show, as they call it.